Do Your Dogs Have a Sixth Sense When You’re Driving to One of Their Favorite Places?

My dogs seem to know where we are going long before we get there. Do your dogs act like this, too?
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My wife and I loaded the dogs into our SUV and pulled out of the driveway. It was a Sunday afternoon and really no different than any other day of the week. The dogs made a nest out of their bedding we keep in the car and prepared for a nap. They always like to go for rides, and weren’t too particular about where we were going.

We drove down the busy state road near our house, turned off it, and cut through a neighborhood street to avoid the traffic. The dogs maintained their restful bliss. We approached a stop light and turned on the left signal. Out of nowhere, the dogs perked up, sat upright, stretched their necks as high as possible, and began a symphony of whines and barks.

Their vocals were not from fear or worry but from excitement. They knew exactly where we were at that point and couldn’t wait to arrive. They were at one of their favorite places: the big local park.

I believe that dogs, like some humans, have a sixth sense of knowing what’s going to happen before it actually happens. We hadn’t really mentioned to the dogs that we were going to the big park that day. So I don’t believe our words let them know where we were going. We’d tried our best not to get excited or even think about where we were going, but maybe they picked up on our visual clues we were subconsciously projecting.

We all like the big park and had been there many times before, so the drive there is nothing special. We almost drive there on autopilot, mostly on the same route and passing the same scenery. Maybe our dogs are so familiar with the drive that they know where they’re going.

The local pet supply store is another place our dogs are happy about. Once we arrive in the parking lot in front of the building, they become uncontrollably excited. They know that they’ll get to go inside the store, select a toy or treat, and smell all the wonderful doggy smells that a pet supply store provides.

What I find interesting is there’s no apparent trigger that would let them know we’re there. Often we don’t encounter any other dogs walking or doing their business outside. Seldom are there other dogs in nearby cars waiting to go inside or waiting for their human companions to reappear. We even visit several pet supply stores and take different routes, but that still does not interfere with their sense of knowing that they have arrived at a pet-focused store. However, we can park a store or two away and they won’t make a peep. They know that they won’t be going into the local department store or grocery store next to their favorite pet supply store.

We made several other visits to familiar locations on this afternoon. I ran into a local department store to purchase a couple of T-shirts that were on sale. We visited a local office supply store to look for a new phone headset. We went to a pizzeria to pick up a salad, calzone, and small pizza.

My wife and I took turns going into the stores while the other stayed in the car with the dogs. As we pulled up to each location, the dogs would look out the window and perk their ears. But after a quick check of the scene, they would lay back in their beds for a quick snooze. They weren’t excited about any of these locations and never made a sound.

Our daily visit to the local Starbucks does add some excitement to their routine. They’ll sit upright in the car from the time we leave the house until we arrive at the store. They wag their little nubby tails as they arrive at the drive-through window. They know that they’ll get recognized by our favorite baristas and will get a little doggy treat while they’re there. They’re excited to be there, but it’s a different excitement than going to the big park.

At Starbucks, they usually don’t make a sound. They sit politely and patiently as we gather our drinks and treats. They’ve learned that they need to stay quiet so we can place our order through the loudspeaker, and not to bark at others waiting in line. The only time you’ll hear a peep from them is if they think it’s taking too long to receive our order. Even then, it’s more of a low-pitched grumble instead of a high bark and squeal, like they do at the park.

I know that dogs have a keen sense of knowing and love their routines. They recognize their favorite places both visually and from the sense of the energy around their favorite places. They like how it feels to them and that it’s a fun place to be.

Does your dog recognize favorite places? Do they get excited before they arrive? Share your stories and photos in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Do Your Dogs Have a Sixth Sense When You’re Driving to One of Their Favorite Places?”

  1. I was looking this up because my boyfriend’s German shorthair barks with excitement whenever we reach our destination, even if it’s his first time there. And he’s in the bed of the pick up in a cozy carrier so he has no idea from us if we’re close to our spot. It really is a supernatural thing.

  2. My labrador male is doing things that i didn’t think possible. I’m in my early 40’s and this is the 4th lab that i’ve owned since birth. So i’m very familiar with the breed and what they can and cannot do. I’m single with no kids so my dog gets a LOT of individual attention.

    I take him on long walks every single day. Sometimes we’ll go to the local dog park and sometimes we’ll go to the local high school where i’ll let him run around the athletic practice fields. There are several parks in my area and we have a regular rotation. We also go to “non-dog places” too. He goes with me to the grocery store, the bank, the post office, etc. Basically, i take my dog everywhere. I work out of the house so my lifestyle affords me the flexibility to spend a lot of time with him.

    After a while, he started to get excited when we’d get really close to a “dog place”. I’ve always known dogs have a keen sense of direction, but this is on an entirely different level of anything i have EVER seen. His sense of direction has continued to get better and better over time. He’s 9 years old and still in really great physical and mental shape. I never take him to the same place on consecutive days. So we’re always changing up our routine to some degree (different places, different routes, different times of day).

    The amazing thing is that he no longer has to wait until we get close to where we’re going. The moment that i turn on a street in the direction of one of his “favorite places” he goes nuts! He actually knows where we’re going even when we’re 10 miles out. I thought it might be that he was using visual cues to orient himself. But then i started going different routes to get to certain locations. AND HE STILL KNOWS EXACTLY WHERE WE’RE AT!

    I’ve been careful not to give him any visual cues (that includes cues he may be getting from me). I simply turn left to drive in the direction of one of his favorite places and he starts to go crazy with excitement. And this will happen 5-10 miles away…on roads where we’ve rarely (if ever) been. It’s absolutely amazing to see in person.

    Obviously, he’s an EXTREMELY intelligent dog in general. For example, one day when his water bowl was empty, rather than wait for me to fill his water bowl…he just decided to jump into the bathtub and turned the water on with his nose. He moved the nozzle to turn the water on. I NEVER TAUGHT HIM TO DO THAT. He just saw me turn the nozzle on as i get prepped for a shower in the mornings. Eventually, he figured out how to make the water colder. So he will actually choose his temperature by simply moving the nozzle with his nose. And that’s another thing he did on his own. It’s incredible!

    Again, i spend a lot of time with my dog. So that probably has a lot to do with his behavior. I purchased my very first lab in college and he has some behavioral issues. I was working a full time job AND going to school full time. He probably only got walked 2-3 times per week. So i am to blame for a lot of his behavior. He just didn’t get the attention that he craved. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

  3. My dog does this with my mother’s home and another relative’s house. I wonder if they recognize certain smells as landmarks?

  4. We have a Goldendoodle who is 75 percent Poodle. I have had a dog most of my life but never experienced this “knowledge” until we go Michelob over 7 years ago. When he was 4 months old, I drove from Ohio with him to visit my Mother in Orlando. When we returned to her house for Christmas about 6 months after the first trip. When we pulled off the highway and tunned to drive over a bridge leading to her house about a mile away, he went crazy with excitement knowing where he was. Since then, he does the same super routine getting all excited anytime we get near (many time over a mile or more away). My wife and Michelob have been walking the entire Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga 3miles at a time. Each day when they get close to where they stopped the day before, he goes crazy each and every time way before we are even close or take other roads to get there.

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